Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and a bipartisan delegation of House members, traveled to the Philippines and Australia to exchange ideas on a variety of education and workforce policies. The congressional delegation participated in meetings with government officials, nongovernmental stakeholders, and education and business leaders, including Filipino President Benigno Aquino III. Members of the congressional delegation reaffirmed the strong relationship between the United States and its allies in South East Asia, and they discussed a number of policies affecting students and workers, such as health and safety, STEM education, and trade.
During its stay in the Philippines and Australia, among other events, the delegation:
- Held meetings with the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. Discussions covered a range of topics, including skills training, trade, the importance of educating students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and labor relations with the Australian workforce.
- Visited with representatives from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney. Members broadly discussed higher education, while focusing on research underway at the center related to aerospace, defense, and mining. After receiving an overview of the center’s work, members toured a research facility to review projects currently underway, including a number of projects that are intended to improve the health and safety of miners.
- Met with education leaders at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. Members discussed the educational programs underway at the zoo. One program in particular uses interaction with the zoo’s wildlife to help at-risk youth – including youth who have been in the juvenile justice system – reject violence and crime, succeed in school, and live as productive members of society.
- Toured the Redfern National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in Sydney, Australia. While open to the public at-large, the center offers a number of sports-related activities and innovative educational programs geared toward at-risk youth and families in Australia’s indigenous communities. Members met with educators to discuss the social and educational challenges facing the indigenous population. The delegation also toured a number of the center’s athletic facilities and classrooms.
- Met with New South Wales State Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, and also held a separate meeting with the Australian Minerals Council. At both meetings, members discussed the size and makeup of the Australian mining industry, as well as policies affecting workforce training and health and safety. The meetings also discussed Australia’s successful efforts in combating black lung disease among its mine workers.
- Toured Clark International Airport in the Philippines. Clark was the largest overseas base of the U.S. Air Force until it was transferred back to the Filipino government in 1991. Clark is the location Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) and others traveled to after being released as prisoners of war at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. It was the first free ground these U.S. military personnel stepped onto after years of captivity. Members met with current U.S. military personnel to discuss regional security issues, including the Balikatan joint exercises, and review a number of military aircraft.
The congressional delegation also participated in a number of meetings with leaders in foreign affairs, defense, and trade. These discussions focused on regional security issues, the provocative actions of China in the South China Seas, efforts to combat violent extremism, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The bipartisan delegation included the following members:
- Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and member of the House Committee on Armed Services;
- Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce;
- Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), chairman of the House Committee on the Budget and member of the House Committee on Ways and Means;
- Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, and member of the House Committee on Financial Services;
- Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and member of the Joint Economic Committee; and
- Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI), member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, member of the House Committee on Agriculture, and member and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
To view photos of the congressional delegation, click here.